It Takes Effort to be (Collectively) Rational: Group as a Reasoning Agent

in Rationality and Decision Making
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The paper points that certain groups are rational agents. In order to satisfy three conditions of rationality presented by Philip Pettit, it is not enough for such groups to be simple agents. A rational group agent has to be able to reason. To explain why this additional condition is necessary and how a group agent can reason, I introduce a combined account of group agency composed of Deborath Tollefsen interpretationism and analyses conducted by Philip Pettit and Christian List. Recent results from the theory of judgments aggregation point to the dilemma that undermines the potential existence of a rational group agent. Pettit demonstrates that only groups with a rational point of view are able to overcome this obstacle. This solution, however, leads to another problem with a group agency. It is claimed in the paper, that if a group satisfies Pettis’ conditions of rationality, the discontinuity between a group and its members’ intentional states vanishes. If this is right, it seems that a group epistemic agency could be entirely explained in terms of mutually related individuals’ beliefs, hence the thesis of a group as a self-standing agent is seriously undermined. Yet, one does not need to reach this pessimistic conclusion. The group agency thesis could be preserved if interpreted in distributive way, a way that does not need the discontinuity thesis in its support.

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